Siden was an intelligent young man, raised alone by his widowed mother. He grew up as any other boy did; he had a normal life. However, there was something peculiar about him, and someday he would figure out just what that was. He had a strong will, nothing seemed to intimidate him, and he was very adept at hunting the fell beasts roaming throughout the outskirts of his village. He was also skilled at fishing, and would often visit the harbor. He never knew his father, also a fisherman once: the man joined the armies in the tribal wars, and vanished shortly thereafter.
But our tale starts years after Siden has come of age. He is now 28, and he too, is a man of the sea. He is one of the few individuals in his village to have a boat, besides those living in the bay area. His is a highly adorned sailing ship that had once belonged to a shamanic tribe; they had long since vacated the area, and left the ship behind due to the chaos that followed the wars. He has traveled far and wide; bringing back many stories of life across the seas. He is sitting at the pier, after a long journey. He begins a new tale, as he glances out at his audience.
I have faced many dangers during my journeys. I remember vividly the first year I set out. I was young, and had not a single care in the world. My first stop was the wild regions of the Northern Sea; it is dotted with beautiful islands that jut out of the water; and a mountainous continent, with its peaks stretching high into the clouds. I have had the opportunity to visit a fair few of them. But dusk comes quickly there. Enormous creatures inhabit the area—even the natives steer clear. I have had numerous encounters with a great and terrible beast that had taken quite a bit of interest.
I was taken by surprise the first time. Its call was fierce—a loud, unforgiving, trumpeting sound; its body massive, about the size of a lion. Its fur was silver, covering its back, but its underside was rough, encrusted with hardened rock-like skin. Its tail was covered in spines, each of them nearly a cubit in length. I heard rumors of it being solitary; that it hunted alone; therefore I didn’t fear being outnumbered. What really frightened me was its face; its face was that of a man’s! Its horrid mouth lined with rows of teeth.
It was a manticore—and I slew it, but not without an intense fight. I laid traps-many of them, in various places throughout the lands. Yet, somehow that fiend got past them all, virtually unscathed. I was seething, how could a mere animal have bested my trapping skills? But no, he was clever, almost as smart as a human being! I was forced to run for my life—the creature gave chase. I ran until I was cut off; we had reached a high cliff. The foul thing left me with no other alternative. I leapt into the sea far below, but he was faster. He struck me with his tail, and I flew about 20 feet, before landing in the ocean. For hours I pried its spines out of my bleeding torso. Obviously (and thankfully) it was not an adult; a grown man would die instantly if the stings of a fully-grown manticore had hit him. I made camp, and prepared to close my eyes and sleep, when I caught the creature’s scent—he was nearby! —But I was not going to lose to him now. I drew my sword, just as he came at me, claws out, and ready to tear me limb from limb. He dove towards me, but this time I managed to cut him. The blade of my sword shattered as I struck his back, and his fur was now red with his blood. The manticore had at last sustained an injury. He fled, and for six days I did not see him. (The islands were gargantuan; covered in miles upon miles of forest.)
Afraid for my life, I prepared to leave for home; I was about to board my ship, when I heard a terrifying shriek. My sword was broken, I couldn’t completely defend myself; but I was not ready to die. I drew from the scabbard all that remained of it: I am a skilled blade maker, and fashioned a short dagger from what was left, in the night. The beast charged, and knocked my over; I nearly dropped the blade, but I was determined to kill this ravenous monster. I held fast, and retaliated; we both hit at the same time. The creature’s weight was too much for the ship, and we fell through the deck. I struck with my sword, driving the blade as far as possible through its hide, in the place where its heart should have been. The manticore fell against me, dead. I had killed my adversary at last.”
Siden rose upon finishing his story, now aware that half his audience had left wile he was speaking. Sullenly, he walked to the local inn, listening to the mutterings of the villagers. He didn’t expect them to believe, but he could not help feeling betrayed. The next morning, he left without saying goodbye, and the locals awakened only to see a large ship sailing into the horizon.